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New York Times bestselling author John Grisham takes you to a different kind of court in his first basketball novel. Samuel "Sooley" Sooleymon is a raw, young talent with big hoop dreams...and even bigger challenges off the court. In the summer of his seventeenth year, Sam­uel Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime: a trip to the United States with his South Sudanese teamm New York Times bestselling author John Grisham takes you to a different kind of court in his first basketball novel. Samuel "Sooley" Sooleymon is a raw, young talent with big hoop dreams...and even bigger challenges off the court. In the summer of his seventeenth year, Sam­uel Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime: a trip to the United States with his South Sudanese teammates to play in a showcase basket­ball tournament. He has never been away from home, nor has he ever been on an airplane. The opportunity to be scouted by dozens of college coaches is a dream come true. Samuel is an amazing athlete, with speed, quick­ness, and an astonishing vertical leap. The rest of his game, though, needs work, and the American coaches are less than impressed. During the tournament, Samuel receives dev­astating news from home: A civil war is raging across South Sudan, and rebel troops have ran­sacked his village. His father is dead, his sister is missing, and his mother and two younger brothers are in a refugee camp. Samuel desperately wants to go home, but it's just not possible. Partly out of sympathy, the coach of North Carolina Central offers him a scholar­ship. Samuel moves to Durham, enrolls in classes, joins the team, and prepares to sit out his freshman season. There is plenty of more mature talent and he isn't immediately needed. But Samuel has something no other player has: a fierce determination to succeed so he can bring his family to America. He works tirelessly on his game, shooting baskets every morning at dawn by himself in the gym, and soon he's dominating everyone in practice. With the Central team los­ing and suffering injury after injury, Sooley, as he is nicknamed, is called off the bench. And the legend begins. But how far can Sooley take his team? And will success allow him to save his family? Gripping and moving, Sooley showcases John Grisham's unparalleled storytelling powers in a whole new light. This is Grisham at the top of his game.


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New York Times bestselling author John Grisham takes you to a different kind of court in his first basketball novel. Samuel "Sooley" Sooleymon is a raw, young talent with big hoop dreams...and even bigger challenges off the court. In the summer of his seventeenth year, Sam­uel Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime: a trip to the United States with his South Sudanese teamm New York Times bestselling author John Grisham takes you to a different kind of court in his first basketball novel. Samuel "Sooley" Sooleymon is a raw, young talent with big hoop dreams...and even bigger challenges off the court. In the summer of his seventeenth year, Sam­uel Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime: a trip to the United States with his South Sudanese teammates to play in a showcase basket­ball tournament. He has never been away from home, nor has he ever been on an airplane. The opportunity to be scouted by dozens of college coaches is a dream come true. Samuel is an amazing athlete, with speed, quick­ness, and an astonishing vertical leap. The rest of his game, though, needs work, and the American coaches are less than impressed. During the tournament, Samuel receives dev­astating news from home: A civil war is raging across South Sudan, and rebel troops have ran­sacked his village. His father is dead, his sister is missing, and his mother and two younger brothers are in a refugee camp. Samuel desperately wants to go home, but it's just not possible. Partly out of sympathy, the coach of North Carolina Central offers him a scholar­ship. Samuel moves to Durham, enrolls in classes, joins the team, and prepares to sit out his freshman season. There is plenty of more mature talent and he isn't immediately needed. But Samuel has something no other player has: a fierce determination to succeed so he can bring his family to America. He works tirelessly on his game, shooting baskets every morning at dawn by himself in the gym, and soon he's dominating everyone in practice. With the Central team los­ing and suffering injury after injury, Sooley, as he is nicknamed, is called off the bench. And the legend begins. But how far can Sooley take his team? And will success allow him to save his family? Gripping and moving, Sooley showcases John Grisham's unparalleled storytelling powers in a whole new light. This is Grisham at the top of his game.

30 review for Sooley

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mandy White (mandylovestoread)

    I know that it has been said many times before, but John Grisham is a master storyteller. He has a way of bringing his characters to life with his words. Sooley is a very different type of book for Grisham, although I have now discovered it is not his first book about sport. His love of the game of basketball shines through in this emotional novel that will break your heart. Samuel Sooleyman is 17 when his dream of playing basketball in America comes true. He leaves his family in Sudan and travel I know that it has been said many times before, but John Grisham is a master storyteller. He has a way of bringing his characters to life with his words. Sooley is a very different type of book for Grisham, although I have now discovered it is not his first book about sport. His love of the game of basketball shines through in this emotional novel that will break your heart. Samuel Sooleyman is 17 when his dream of playing basketball in America comes true. He leaves his family in Sudan and travels to the US to play in a showcase, where he needs to impress to earn a scholarship to stay. He is a very talented player, and can jump higher than most other players. But tragedy strikes his family while he is away. His village is ransacked and his father is murdered. His sister is taken by rebels and his mother escapes with his 2 younger brothers to a refugee camp. He immediately wants to go home but this is a chance of a lifetime and what could he do if he returns. So he stays and throws everything into his game, practicing whenever her can to be better, to be the best - for himself and to make his family proud. You will fall in love with Sooley, I certainly did. He is a loveable, strong willed character and he knows what he wants. His family and basketball are the most important things to him. The US is like another planet to him and he struggles to find his way through a normal teenage lifestyle. He is not a character that I will forget. Thanks to Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of this book to read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    NILTON TEIXEIRA

    What can I say? Love it or hate it, I will understand. This is not a courtroom drama. This is not the usual book that we expect from Grisham. But one thing is for sure, Grisham is an amazing storyteller. There were plenty of dramas and the conclusion was truly heartbreaking. But if you are not into sports, especially basketball, you may have a hard time enjoying this book, unless you have no problem skimming (expect lots of skimming!). I’m not a fan of basketball, however, because the author describe What can I say? Love it or hate it, I will understand. This is not a courtroom drama. This is not the usual book that we expect from Grisham. But one thing is for sure, Grisham is an amazing storyteller. There were plenty of dramas and the conclusion was truly heartbreaking. But if you are not into sports, especially basketball, you may have a hard time enjoying this book, unless you have no problem skimming (expect lots of skimming!). I’m not a fan of basketball, however, because the author describes everything with such skill and passion, I was completely absorbed by the storyline. I even had goosebumps when Sooley hit the basket The development of the storyline is terrific. I loved the main character, Samuel Sooleymon. I was truly entertained and I enjoyed this work. The best part is that I had no expectations. I did not read any review or the synopsis. I went blind and I was surprised.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    4.5-5 stars. Any Grisham book is an automatic read for me. This one surprisingly took place at a different court. I thought his storytelling was great. I know the subject won’t be for everyone, but I love basketball, especially NCAA, and really enjoyed this rather quick read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Interesting Enough To Finish But Not Good Enough To Recommend! Sooley is a major departure for Grisham in that in that its plot largely revolves around a basketball court rather than a court of law. Without going into detail, Sooley’s plot centers around a South Sudanese teen’s journey from his impoverished home to the world of American sports. As a lifelong fan of college and professional basketball, as well as being a person who spent (too) many years on the courts playing the game (for which m Interesting Enough To Finish But Not Good Enough To Recommend! Sooley is a major departure for Grisham in that in that its plot largely revolves around a basketball court rather than a court of law. Without going into detail, Sooley’s plot centers around a South Sudanese teen’s journey from his impoverished home to the world of American sports. As a lifelong fan of college and professional basketball, as well as being a person who spent (too) many years on the courts playing the game (for which my knees, legs and fingers have never forgiven me), I found the majority of the book pertaining to Samuel “Sooley” Sooleymon’s rise from total obscurity to becoming a virtual overnight basketball sensation to be very enjoyable but, at the same time, mostly predictable. However, if you’re not an avid fan of the game, I’d advise you to not even bother to pick up this book. Grisham’s more secondary plot involves the very sad plight of Sooley’s mother, younger brother and sister as they escape from the war-torn destruction of their Sudan village to a rescue camp in Uganda, as well as Sooley’s efforts to try to bring his family to the US now that wealth and fame is about to be in his grasp. This portion of the book is very tragic and eye-opening; although, for me, I felt Grisham didn’t develop this story enough to generate the type of emotional impact it deserves. Further, I felt he could have done a lot more in terms of developing Sooley’s family members in order to give readers a stronger understanding of who they are as people, rather than just knowing them to be Sooley’s family members he had to leave behind. Lastly, I was mostly disappointed in how Grisham chose to end the book. Bottom line, to use a basketball term, while I enjoyed portions of Sooley the book ultimately resulted in it being a bit of a clunker for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carl W. Johnson

    Great,brings back happy memories!!sitting on the Rail!after home games!the HBCU produce some great NBA players!among those include Nccu,Sam Jones,Earl the pearl of N.Y.Knicks fame!Winston Salem great,to name a few

  6. 5 out of 5

    thewanderingjew

    Sooley, John Grisham, author; Dion Graham, narrator This book is not like the legal thrillers by Grisham that I prefer. Instead of an exciting book about crime and injustice, it is about basketball, almost a text about basketball. By way of that sport, it is also about class, race, immigration, violence in some tribal African countries, particularly in the South Sudan, and drugs, as well. Samuel Sooleyman is a teenager in Lotta, a small village in the South Sudan where he lives happily, often dre Sooley, John Grisham, author; Dion Graham, narrator This book is not like the legal thrillers by Grisham that I prefer. Instead of an exciting book about crime and injustice, it is about basketball, almost a text about basketball. By way of that sport, it is also about class, race, immigration, violence in some tribal African countries, particularly in the South Sudan, and drugs, as well. Samuel Sooleyman is a teenager in Lotta, a small village in the South Sudan where he lives happily, often dreaming about a possible life in America. He has been spotted by a scout, Ecko Lam, originally from South Sudan. He is searching for ten kids that might qualify as prospects to be brought to the United States to play for the Sudan under 18 team and then hopefully to be chosen to attend a college there. In Sooley’s case, it was Central in North Carolina. He receives a full scholarship, funding, housing and a job he loves to give him excess cash for what he will need and an opportunity for endless practice. Grisham refers to Central as “the other school”, since Duke is the more famous school located there. Central is a largely black school. This opportunity for Samuel is the ticket to freedom, fame and fortune, if only he can qualify. Samuel lives, eats and breathes basketball. At 17, he is 6 feet 2 inches and is still growing, but his skills have to grow as well. Ecko has to determine if they will. He makes a gut decision and selects Sooley for the team, believing he will improve and become a star. Samuel jumps like a gazelle, high and graceful and only needs to work on his form and his accuracy. Samuel is all in for the job. When violence comes to Sooley’s hometown, death and destruction follow. His family is homeless and in dire straits. He wants to go home to help, but he cannot return because it is too dangerous, and he has no place to go anyway. The rebels fighting this Civil War are vicious and relentless, they have destroyed his village completely. He remains in the United States, at first only motivated by the need to save and to work to rescue his family from afar, bringing them to the United States too. He is not motivated by money at all, but by the altruistic thought of saving them. Sooley’s mother has the same kind nature as he evidences. Will he be able to maintain his values as the world of sports begins to corrupt him? Ecko promises to help him and is true to his word. He brings back information from Africa, and helps to ferry messages to and fro. Alternating between Sooley’s family’s trauma and Sooley’s inevitable progress in basketball, the book moves on until his ultimate goal is reached. He has improved so much, he is being looked at as an early draft for the NBA, even though he is too young to really make mature decisions. He is motivated by money and the hope of freedom for his remaining family. He is encouraged to give up his education and to choose the millions that will be offered to him. The book has a twist at the end, so don’t look ahead, but otherwise, the plot is quite obvious and often tedious. There were too many characters to follow, and therefore it was not easy to become invested with any of them, except perhaps for his dear friend Murray and Sooley. Often it was difficult to follow each thread carefully. There were also too many descriptions of basketball plays and moves, and so someone not totally immersed in the sport, like Sooley, might soon give up on the book and choose to read something else. There are few unknowns in the novel. One wonders, only occasionally, about whether or not Sooley is going to be influenced by greed, tragedy and other opinions. There is little encouragement by the author to do this, and so there is really no hurry to reach the end of the book. It is slow moving and way too involved in the nitty gritty of the sport and tends to be utterly boring at times with the necessary inclusion, by liberal authors today, of their politics about race, sex and white privilege. If Central beats Duke, what is the subliminal message intended? The most important message, however, is the one I found least stressed. Education is important for the future of our youth and our country. If students are well rounded, taught good citizenship, and are allowed to mature, they will make more intelligent decisions. However, if they are spoiled by the bright lights and money always being advertised, they might not choose education which has a longer lasting value than a sport that can only be played for a short period of time in life and also involves the possibility of grave injuries. The book reinforced the idea of the importance of money as a means to happiness and success, not the importance of education and worthwhile contributions to society. Greed leads to foolish decisions, but this is a theme that the book does not truly embrace. Although it is there front and center, it is not discouraged. This book could have reinforced the idea that drugs are dangerous. It could have reinforced the stupidity of paying ridiculous sums of money to teenagers who are encouraged to give up any other future on the chance that they will be superrich playing for a big name team. It is shortsighted. It could have reinforced the idea that kids need to follow the advice of adults that care about them, family, not friends who are not wise enough to make any better decision than they are. It could have encouraged the young not to experiment in wild sex and drinking explaining that sometimes women, alcohol and other toys, like fancy cars, drugs and partying into all hours of the night are dangerous pastimes. These kids have stars in their eyes that blind them. I think Grisham missed the opportunity to stress education over athletics, in this book, but that did not seem to be the prominent theme. Instead of encouraging students to work toward improving the world in some way as they improved themselves, it encouraged greed, which, more often than not, leads to tragic ends because it is too much, too soon. It is too hard for immature kids to manage all the “toys” that come with the prize of success in sports. In no way did this book encourage better behavior. It encouraged “go fund me pages”, but not working for the betterment of America or any country in which one lives. It encouraged greed and selfish pursuits. Winning above all was the major theme of the book. Perhaps, if the theme had been more altruistic, a theme it would have been easy to implant within these pages, I would then have rated the book higher than the two stars I gave it. To me, the book’s main message is self-centered greed. It tried but failed to show how the lights of fame corrupt, how it might be dangerous to pursue only sports, but that was presented as the ultimate goal. There was no moral, no lesson though that would have made the book far more worthwhile for the group it is intended to reach, the group that sees sports only as a ticket to money, not to any other worthwhile pursuit to improve the world. There were really only two redeeming features of this book, for me. It encouraged me to do some research on South Sudan, and the narrator was excellent, using tone and accent perfectly. Each of the characters was well defined, and most often the emotion expressed was on point and authentic. Is there strife in the world, are our athletes overpaid? Yes, do these themes come through adequately? I didn’t think so, but other readers will decide that for themselves if they can make it to the end of the book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Josh Olds

    John Grisham’s latest novel released this past week and, like always, rocketed to the top of the NYT bestseller’s list. Unlike most of his novels, Sooley is not a legal thriller but a sports novel focusing on a fictional South Sudanese basketball player. Grisham has made these forays into sports before—Calico Joe (baseball), Playing for Pizza (football), and Bleachers (football)—but they were smaller, shorter endeavors at around 50,000 words. Sooley is a full-length novel birthed out of the COVI John Grisham’s latest novel released this past week and, like always, rocketed to the top of the NYT bestseller’s list. Unlike most of his novels, Sooley is not a legal thriller but a sports novel focusing on a fictional South Sudanese basketball player. Grisham has made these forays into sports before—Calico Joe (baseball), Playing for Pizza (football), and Bleachers (football)—but they were smaller, shorter endeavors at around 50,000 words. Sooley is a full-length novel birthed out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of 2020 March Madness. Grisham, an avid sports fan, decided to fill the time spent not watching sports toward writing this sports story. To add in an interesting second storyline, Grisham chose to have the titular Sooley—Samuel Sooleyman—come from the war-torn country of South Sudan, home to basketball greats Manute Bol and Luol Deng. The premise is a promising one, because Grisham is able to tell two contrasting stories. The first story, after Sooley’s work ethic leads to a position on the national team and a college scholarship, combines a fish-out-of-water story with an immigration story with an escaped-the-hood story wrapped out the Cinderella story of a March Madness to remember. The second story is about Sooley’s family in South Sudan. Shortly after Sooley leaves, raiders burn his hometown, killing his father and kidnapping his sister. His mother and brothers escape, eventually making their way to a refugee camp. It’s an interesting study in contrasts that highlights two vastly different lives. A question I kept asking myself as I read this novel was “Do serious, nuanced themes require serious, nuanced storytelling? Sooley, for all its thematic elements dealing with the Sudanese refugee crisis, doesn’t really deal with it in any substantive way. He has this deep and tragic storyline and its never used to its full potential or talked about with depth. My reluctant answer is “No, not always.” If Grisham did so, his books wouldn’t be at the top of the NYT list. They wouldn’t be “easy reading.” And in that, many would have even less awareness of the refugee crisis in South Sudan than the little Grisham gives them. Think deeply enough about Sooley and you’ll uncover a plot that reveals the elitism of American society. Sooley has value to America as an entertainer. And not even a particularly good one. He’s a third-string guard for a small-time university. But because he has the potential to entertain, all roadblocks to his immigration and citizenship are cleared. Meanwhile, there are thousands of refugees—Sooley’s brothers and mother included—who have no value to the United States because they cannot play basketball. It’s a poignant contrast, but one that Grisham fails to draw out. The first three-quarters of the novel progress in standard sports book/movie fashion. Sooley is not a good basketball player, but he’s got height (you can’t teach that) and he’s got a great work ethic (which makes him teachable at everything else). He makes the most of the opportunities he’s given and it leads to an improbable run through their conference and into March Madness. Unfortunately, Grisham gives us very little in the way of how this happens. Sooley, for all the weightiness and trauma behind his story, seems not to feel any of it. He plays a medicore season then, suddenly and magically, he begins to hit threes (which Grisham repeatedly and annoyingly calls “bombs”) at a rate that would be unbelievable if Steph Curry wasn’t a real person. It’s all just a bit much and Grisham doesn’t do the work of convincing the reader to suspend disbelief. Nonetheless, I was willing to call this an average, rah-rah sports novel—one that will sell well, then you’ll see hundreds of copies in your used book stores in a few months—until the last quarter when Sooley took an incredible twist. Perhaps it was because Grisham realized he’s virtually abandoned the B-plot in South Sudan. Perhaps it was because he’d overwritten his typical sports novella length and, not wishing to edit, deciding to add a shocking twist to push the novel to full-length. Whatever the case, it’s not a good decision. What happens from the end of the March Madness run through the end makes absolutely no sense given the story that Sooley had set up so far. Then, just so as to not end on such a cynical note (which would have been preferable), he crams in a final subplot about Sooley’s mother and brothers so absurd it makes the rest of the book seem believable. Grisham, you lost me at about 70,000 words in, which, with some editing, could have come in at the same size as your other sports novels. You had a simple, straightforward story that hid some deeper themes within it. Pushing the novel to full-length through a series of absurd twists took a perfectly serviceable but mediocre sports novel and turned it into an irredeemable mess.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    One doesn't become a best-selling author without knowing how to tell a story, and Grisham has obviously obtained a rare level of success that indicates he can effectively connect with readers. In interviews about this book Grisham says he decided to break from his legal thrillers and write a basketball book after the 2020 NCAA tournament was cancelled and he was missing his basketball fix. What he created strives to simultaneously capture college basketball and the issues faced in a war-torn Sout One doesn't become a best-selling author without knowing how to tell a story, and Grisham has obviously obtained a rare level of success that indicates he can effectively connect with readers. In interviews about this book Grisham says he decided to break from his legal thrillers and write a basketball book after the 2020 NCAA tournament was cancelled and he was missing his basketball fix. What he created strives to simultaneously capture college basketball and the issues faced in a war-torn South Sudan, but his laziness as a researcher ruins any chance of a reader gaining insight into either of these settings. As a basketball fan I bought the book to read about a small-college experience, but Grisham has little understanding of the culture, the routines, or how to describe college basketball practices or games. Sooley's development is unbelievable--even with Grisham emphasizing how hard he works--as he becomes the best shooter in college history and puts up unbelievable numbers (14 threes in a game! 58 points!) despite very little actual game experience in his life. Most games are described briefly if at all, but Grisham's inability to write a compelling game narrative means this is no great loss. His favorite adjective is "perfect"--there are an extraordinary number of "perfect passes" for a mediocre mid-major team--and he loves players to throw behind-the-back passes (Sooley's behind-the-back alley-oop shows how little Grishman understands the game; try to find such a pass on YouTube). Sooley begins jacking up 35-40 footers and rarely missing, something Steph Curry can only dream about, despite less than a year earlier having a completely broken shooting form. Even the tournament is nonsensical for anyone who follows March Madness: Florida, at 22-12 with wins against Kansas and Kentucky, .500 in conference, losing in the SEC finals, is a play-in for the 16 seed? And a 26 point favorite in that game? Has Grisham ever seen a bracket? Then there's this head-scratcher: "Never in the tournament's storied history had a number 16 beaten a number one. Same for fifteen, fourteen, thirteen." (For the record, 16s have won once, 15s nine times, 14s 22 times, and 13s thirty times). I'll add that his editor was apparently absent from this entire process, as Grisham says Florida is scheduled to play Duke on Friday in Memphis, and in the NEXT PARAGRAPH says "They're already talking about Duke Thursday night in Memphis." Thirty dollars for a book and you find this blatant error that any copy editor should have noticed. Meanwhile, the African scenes are exposition-filled descriptions with minimal emotional resonance or sense of environment; one suspects Grisham read some newspaper articles--at best some long-nonfiction--about refugees in Africa and threw it into his book. Few characters here have depth or resonance, and most of the writing focuses on how people act without insight into how they feel or think. One gets the impression Grisham wants you to be horrified by the circumstances Sooley's family faces, but he doesn't have the talent to make you empathize with their struggles. Grisham clearly doesn't know how to stop Sooley's meteoric rise, so he relies on the example of Len Bias in a way that is infuriating and empty. He touches on issues of fame and sudden access to everything one could want, but with so little depth it reads like an escape hatch instead of a morality play. One can't help thinking Grisham decided to toss off a book during quarantine, read some articles about Africa, and threw something together to make a quick $50 million. And I was a sucker for trusting him. Won't happen again.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Srihari

    I always love a Grisham. They're simple, fast paced and interesting. A perfect formula for a legal thriller, something he specialises in. When I heard his latest book was going to be sports-related, I wasn't sure how it would work. And unsurprisingly, it turned out to be a dud. The story is about Samuel 'Sooley' Sooleyman, a South Sudanese from the remote village of Lotta who gets the opportunity of a lifetime when he's chosen to represent his country in a basketball tournament in the US. Meanwh I always love a Grisham. They're simple, fast paced and interesting. A perfect formula for a legal thriller, something he specialises in. When I heard his latest book was going to be sports-related, I wasn't sure how it would work. And unsurprisingly, it turned out to be a dud. The story is about Samuel 'Sooley' Sooleyman, a South Sudanese from the remote village of Lotta who gets the opportunity of a lifetime when he's chosen to represent his country in a basketball tournament in the US. Meanwhile, his village is burnt to the ground by rebels, forcing his family to move to a refugee camp in Uganda. The book deals with Sooley's tribulations in the US, and his family's back in South Sudan. When his career's off to a shaky start, and his family's situation gets more dire in Uganda, will Sooley be able to achieve success and save his family? This is the rest of the story. The promising premise soon faded into the familiar Grisham tropes (lots of travel, random characters etc.), all of which contributed to nothing in the end. What could have been a story about the trials and tribulations of a black immigrant from a country in shambles ended up being a shallow, predictable narrative where all characters fall flat. Sooley's own story was just random at times, with every other "angelic" character existing just to fulfill his needs. While character development was never Grisham's forté, I definitely felt like he could have ventured into it a bit, considering he's testing new waters anyway. On the plus side, the story had many basketball sequences which read and felt like live commentary. Despite not knowing even a bit about basketball (or any sport for that matter :) ), I got hooked. Further, leave it to Grisham to take you on a visual tour across the world. From the NC Central Campus to the Rhino Refugee camp in Uganda, life to the minutest detail has been described perfectly. I just wish to half these details went into the characters or even the plot (the book has the silliest plot twist in history... so unnecessary). Overall, the book was below average. From the author of classics like a Time to Kill, The Guardians and the Testament (both unknown gems), I definitely expected better.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Linda Galella

    An indomitable spirit, flight & refuge from a terrible war with LOTS of basketball are the highlights of “Sooley”, by John Grisham. Samuel Sooleyman, is a 17 year old S. Sudanese basketball player who was chosen for an international travel team heading to the U. S. A. He’s got some skills but is far from NBA ready. The scout/coach has a hunch about him... Early in the tournament, Sooley’s home town is invaded and destroyed by rebels. His family runs for their lives, not all successfully. After thi An indomitable spirit, flight & refuge from a terrible war with LOTS of basketball are the highlights of “Sooley”, by John Grisham. Samuel Sooleyman, is a 17 year old S. Sudanese basketball player who was chosen for an international travel team heading to the U. S. A. He’s got some skills but is far from NBA ready. The scout/coach has a hunch about him... Early in the tournament, Sooley’s home town is invaded and destroyed by rebels. His family runs for their lives, not all successfully. After this event, the story splits between Sooley and his family in an Ugandan refugee camp. The transitions are easy as is most of the reading for this book. In typical Grisham style, there are lots of short chapters; 62 of them. The characters are fully fleshed out and we get to feel and ponder along with them. For those who love basketball, you’ll be in a tiny bit of heaven. If you’re not so enamored, skim away or slog thru; it’s not overly technical. Regardless of your status, the game scenes are exciting! There’s much more to this story than basketball. For me, I was struck by the loss of home for Sooley. It was compounded by his loss of family and over riding need to help them, in anyway possible. He had nothing, received a blessing, worked tirelessly, made progress and thru it all kept his family and faith in focus. He’s an inspiring character. Parts of the story dragged and were too drawn out. The early college days were repetitive and the few plot points needed from those pages could have been used more succinctly and saved 30-40 pages, IMO. The remainder is the human interest side of Grisham who gives us a non-partisan look at an immigration story. There a few soft expletives and violence associated with the war in Sudan. It’s not graphic but it is violent. Included in this section are suggestions of sexual assault and rape, murder of family members and children. Scenes at the refuge camp include starvation, dehydration, human waste, stealing and vanished people. Not only entertaining, “Sooley” is a thinker. A novel that could easily be a contemporary biography and it’s well worth the time to invest in its pages📚

  11. 5 out of 5

    Craig / Phil

    Thank you Hachette for sending us a copy to read and review. Although saturated in basketball games and scores this well written story captured some important contrasts and highlights different priorities. The extremities of wealth and poverty showcased. How the love of a sport can unify and bring the most unlikely of people together. How wealth and fame can be a persons undoing. Samuel Sooleyman is from a remote village in the newly formed nation of South Sudan. A country ravaged by war, poverty Thank you Hachette for sending us a copy to read and review. Although saturated in basketball games and scores this well written story captured some important contrasts and highlights different priorities. The extremities of wealth and poverty showcased. How the love of a sport can unify and bring the most unlikely of people together. How wealth and fame can be a persons undoing. Samuel Sooleyman is from a remote village in the newly formed nation of South Sudan. A country ravaged by war, poverty and sectarian violence. He is selected to represent the country in the USA in basketball. Life will change dramatically and the perils of money will do no favours as he laps a life partying and spending. Meanwhile his village has been plundered by gangs of violent thugs that terrorise villages and kill wantonly. Samuel’s mother and brothers flee the carnage and seek refuge at a camp that will offer some protection and food. Black and white best describes the difference in lifestyle. While she lines up for hours for food and water everyday and continually fears for the family’s safety her son is living a life she could not even comprehend. Although young and impressionable Sooley never forgets about his family and their possible extraction from the camp. Lucrative deals and dangerous liaisons are looming. This was my first Grisham novel and I was surprised at how easy and straightforward the read was. The plot had far too much emphasis on basketball and became monotonous easily when on the rise of Sooleys stardom. However the South Sudan storyline was brilliant and informative. The contrast worked well. The ending took me by surprise and had me turning the pages fast. Overall it was an average read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chad Manske

    From the book description…this book is great! “In the summer of his seventeenth year, Sam­uel Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime: a trip to the United States with his South Sudanese teammates to play in a showcase basket­ball tournament. He has never been away from home, nor has he ever been on an airplane. The opportunity to be scouted by dozens of college coaches is a dream come true. Samuel is an amazing athlete, with speed, quick­ness, and an astonishing vertical leap. The rest of his gam From the book description…this book is great! “In the summer of his seventeenth year, Sam­uel Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime: a trip to the United States with his South Sudanese teammates to play in a showcase basket­ball tournament. He has never been away from home, nor has he ever been on an airplane. The opportunity to be scouted by dozens of college coaches is a dream come true. Samuel is an amazing athlete, with speed, quick­ness, and an astonishing vertical leap. The rest of his game, though, needs work, and the American coaches are less than impressed. During the tournament, Samuel receives dev­astating news from home: A civil war is raging across South Sudan, and rebel troops have ran­sacked his village. His father is dead, his sister is missing, and his mother and two younger brothers are in a refugee camp. Samuel desperately wants to go home, but it’s just not possible. Partly out of sympathy, the coach of North Carolina Central offers him a scholar­ship. Samuel moves to Durham, enrolls in classes, joins the team, and prepares to sit out his freshman season. There is plenty of more mature talent and he isn’t immediately needed. But Samuel has something no other player has: a fierce determination to succeed so he can bring his family to America. He works tirelessly on his game, shooting baskets every morning at dawn by himself in the gym, and soon he’s dominating everyone in practice. With the Central team los­ing and suffering injury after injury, Sooley, as he is nicknamed, is called off the bench. And the legend begins. But how far can Sooley take his team? And will success allow him to save his family?”

  13. 4 out of 5

    Darcy

    I don't pay attention to the book blurbs from this author, he's an auto read and I request them when they appear on my library's website. But I will say that I expect a law thrill, so color me surprised when as I started to listen to this one I realized it wasn't a law thriller, more a coming of age and one that will break your heart on so many levels. I don't know how a person could not like Sooley, he was so happy. Happy to be given a chance to play basketball, happy to see all the new things i I don't pay attention to the book blurbs from this author, he's an auto read and I request them when they appear on my library's website. But I will say that I expect a law thrill, so color me surprised when as I started to listen to this one I realized it wasn't a law thriller, more a coming of age and one that will break your heart on so many levels. I don't know how a person could not like Sooley, he was so happy. Happy to be given a chance to play basketball, happy to see all the new things in the US, just happy. But when life back home took a turn, Sooley rolled with the punches, let the people he trusted guide him and Sooley ended up playing college ball. The season wasn't exciting, Sooley was red shirted, the school he was at, not one of the big names, but then things started to happen and the players started to fall, which in turn had the coach turning to Sooley early. From there it seemed like life exploded for Sooley, so many things happening, so many opportunities for him and the other around him that they took advantage of to the fullest. Sooley had the world at his feet and ready to take it on. Funny how one small thing derailed everything and in an instant the whole world changed. I really hated what I was hearing, hated that the smile was gone, hated that the promise was gone. The rest of the book was a bit of a downer, but there were hints that good could still happen and it did. While I still hate the bad that happened, I think what was done in the aftermath was a great nod to the one that started to make it happen.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mindo'ermatter

    Fictional Story Reads Like True Story -- Wow! Really different Grisham novel! If you don't like basketball before reading this, you'll definitely be a fan afterwards! Grisham's adept storytelling plays out well in this intense Cinderella sports thriller about a seventeen-year-old boy from South Sudan, who dreams of playing basketball in the United States. This poignant story begins in Africa and follows Samuel Sooleman ("Sooley") pursuing his dreams in his own country amid armed conflicts between Fictional Story Reads Like True Story -- Wow! Really different Grisham novel! If you don't like basketball before reading this, you'll definitely be a fan afterwards! Grisham's adept storytelling plays out well in this intense Cinderella sports thriller about a seventeen-year-old boy from South Sudan, who dreams of playing basketball in the United States. This poignant story begins in Africa and follows Samuel Sooleman ("Sooley") pursuing his dreams in his own country amid armed conflicts between government and rebel forces. The story splits to follow Sooley on his life-changing adventure, while also sharing his family's horrific experiences in the region's many humanitarian crises. The unusual plot and storyline doesn't fit most of Grisham's traditional genre of legal thrillers, but it's compelling story is both inspiring and heartwrenching with its many twists and challenges. I didn't want to put it down once I started. Grisham's well-developed characters and detailed storyline are so believable it's hard to think this is a fictional tale. Vivid story details and descriptions are well researched, giving life to the narrative that seems like it taken from a first class sports magazine or news magazine. A worthwhile read for entertainment, filled with emotion and energy, while motivating reflection. Several important social issues add depth and interest to a memorable reading experience. I bought Audible's narration supplement separately to add life and personality to my reading enjoyment. A nice touch. Definitely 4.5 Stars!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Simon Gosselin

    Meet 17-year-old high school boy Samuel Sooleymon. Samuel gets a once in a lifetime chance to go to the United States for a basketball match. He and his South Sudanese basketball team head to the U.S. Samuel has never stepped away from his home neither has he ever been on an airplane. Hence this trip is no less than a dream come true for him. This basketball match is also important for Sooleymon since many college scouts will attend this match and offer sports scholarship to good players. Talking Meet 17-year-old high school boy Samuel Sooleymon. Samuel gets a once in a lifetime chance to go to the United States for a basketball match. He and his South Sudanese basketball team head to the U.S. Samuel has never stepped away from his home neither has he ever been on an airplane. Hence this trip is no less than a dream come true for him. This basketball match is also important for Sooleymon since many college scouts will attend this match and offer sports scholarship to good players. Talking about Samuel's basketball skills, he is quick and agile and has a stellar vertical leap. But during the tournament, life takes a devastating turn for this high school kid as a civil war is now raging in South Sudan and the enemy troops attacked his village. But Samuel cannot go back since he has been offered a scholarship and wants to build a better life for himself in America. Most importantly, this life will help him bring his family to America and help them start a new chapter as well. John Grisham is a 'master storyteller'. He has a way to bring his characters to life and has been experimental when it comes to this sports-based thriller. The protagonist is loveable and strong-willed character. And this one is heart-gripping' with a well-built story. You might have to put it down a couple of seconds to wipe a tear. Or cheer for Samuel! I can see this book beeing adapted for a movie. It’s basically built like one.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nilesh

    Sooley should have been longer, a lot longer. Mr. Grisham hit upon an unexplored, obvious gem of a story arc in an immigrant sport-star. He picked the child from the war-ravaged parts of rural South Sudan to begin the spectacular journey. The uplifting journey to basketball superstardom - almost - in the United States is not just because of the boy's supreme talents and hard work but also due to a dozen good human beings he comes across in a short span. Every named character in the book is a genu Sooley should have been longer, a lot longer. Mr. Grisham hit upon an unexplored, obvious gem of a story arc in an immigrant sport-star. He picked the child from the war-ravaged parts of rural South Sudan to begin the spectacular journey. The uplifting journey to basketball superstardom - almost - in the United States is not just because of the boy's supreme talents and hard work but also due to a dozen good human beings he comes across in a short span. Every named character in the book is a genuinely decent person, as Mr. Grisham goes out of his way to keep the murders, louts, and the envious either out of frame or obscure when completely unavoidable. Most readers would have loved the sugary sweet rise of Sooley to be more prolonged with a far higher number of games, awards, and drama involving the author's heart-warming characters. The side stories and on-court excitement could have been raised many notches higher as their artificiality - already evident through the book - would not have bothered most fans enjoying this unabashed melodrama. The brevity is most jarring at the book's manipulative inflection point and the double-quick denouement thereafter. In some ways, the author can take heart in knowing that his readers would leave the novel desiring more. Still, the shortness is likely due to heavy deadline pressure on the author targeting multiple books a year rather than an intentional plan. Overall, a well-crafted fairytale.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Scott Shaw

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I've read everything that John Grisham and this by far outshines the rest. not his usual legal thriller fare that I anticipate eagerly each year, but a book about basketball. A sport that while is popular, is not so much in Australia, so I wasn't relishing this like I would normally. And so he constructed a gripping story, starting in the boondocks of South Sudan with a dream trip by a young man to the USA to play in a basketball tournament. Sooley is stranded in the US when a massacre back home I've read everything that John Grisham and this by far outshines the rest. not his usual legal thriller fare that I anticipate eagerly each year, but a book about basketball. A sport that while is popular, is not so much in Australia, so I wasn't relishing this like I would normally. And so he constructed a gripping story, starting in the boondocks of South Sudan with a dream trip by a young man to the USA to play in a basketball tournament. Sooley is stranded in the US when a massacre back home destroys his village and decimates his family. The book alternated between Sooleys' development as a basketballer and his journey as a young man, to the misfortune suffered by his beautiful family back home in South Sudan. Grisham writes compellingly about the stark differences between the affluent world of the USA and the hand to mouth existence of the refugee camps. It didn't end how I wanted, I fell in love with Sooley and the ending devastated me, but that doesn't stop me from recommending it. Not knowing anything about basket ball didn't put me off, in fact I learnt a lot from googling anything I didn't understand.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bill Spiegel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I’ve thought that Grisham has done a pretty good job the last few books in writing engaging, well-researched stories. In Sooley, the story starts off pretty good but gets far-fetched really quick. And it stays far-fetched beyond the realm of any realistic possibility. Which is too bad, because the premise of the story is pretty good. Samuel Sooleyman is a South Sudanese basketball player who gets an opportunity to play exhibition games in the United States. Despite not having great talent, he get I’ve thought that Grisham has done a pretty good job the last few books in writing engaging, well-researched stories. In Sooley, the story starts off pretty good but gets far-fetched really quick. And it stays far-fetched beyond the realm of any realistic possibility. Which is too bad, because the premise of the story is pretty good. Samuel Sooleyman is a South Sudanese basketball player who gets an opportunity to play exhibition games in the United States. Despite not having great talent, he gets a college scholarship. He goes from not being able to hit any jump shots, two hitting 25 footers, 30 footers and even longer jump shots with astonishing accuracy. I just kids picture this in my mind. All Grisham had to do was make The basketball a little more realistic and I could get into it. Also, he could have spent a little more time delving into the problems with South Sudan. Oh well. It is John Grisham. I’ve read everyone of his books so I read this one too. It just left me pretty meh.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Theodore Schweitzer

    Buddhist Karma personified. The author has unwittingly illustrated the absolute law of Buddhist karma as his main character perishes by his own hand. The law of karma states that for every event that occurs, there will follow another event whose existence was caused by the first event, and this second event will be pleasant or unpleasant depending upon the righteous nature of the first event. The author creates the first unrighteous event as the main character is whisked away to America by a Deus Buddhist Karma personified. The author has unwittingly illustrated the absolute law of Buddhist karma as his main character perishes by his own hand. The law of karma states that for every event that occurs, there will follow another event whose existence was caused by the first event, and this second event will be pleasant or unpleasant depending upon the righteous nature of the first event. The author creates the first unrighteous event as the main character is whisked away to America by a Deus Ex Machina for which he is wholly unprepared and totally undeserving. Then, being practically illiterate and completely unprepared for this unnatural transformation, he succumbs to the unpleasant reality of not being able to cope with the unpleasant experience of his undeserved new life in America, thus his unpleasant second event. According to the law of karma the desire to nourish undeserved joy brings about an unhappy ending which the author has unwittingly illustrated some 2600 years after Buddha.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Susan Bray DeLong

    I love John Grisham books but I don't care about basketball or 17year old youths from South Sudan! I have started reading the book but I would prefer to be reading and reviewing other books. This is how I felt before I really got into the story. Samuel Sooleyman was a 17 year old boy from a small village in war torn. Somalia. He played basketball on a dirt court with other boys his age and had a passion for the game. His dad taught school , his two brothers,his sister and his mum lived in a small I love John Grisham books but I don't care about basketball or 17year old youths from South Sudan! I have started reading the book but I would prefer to be reading and reviewing other books. This is how I felt before I really got into the story. Samuel Sooleyman was a 17 year old boy from a small village in war torn. Somalia. He played basketball on a dirt court with other boys his age and had a passion for the game. His dad taught school , his two brothers,his sister and his mum lived in a small home. What was different about this kid was his ability to jump high, really high. This ability caused a scout to bring him to the USA where he enrolled in college and mastered both jumping high and getting the ball into the basket. Tragedy strikes Sooley’s family when guerrilas attack their village and kill every man and boy, His sister is stripped naked and thrown into a truck with attackers and his mother takes his two brothers and seeks safety in the bush. They wind up in a refugee camp where everyday is a search for food and water. Dreams sometimes do come true. Sooley, as everyone calls him now signs with an agent for a huge sum and is soon surrounded by admiring young women. Despite warnings from his best friend’s mother, the boys attend parties where drugs are plentiful and the very worst thing happens. There are a lot of people who are so sorry for what happened to this lovely talented kid and I guess the telling of his story by Grisham may serve as a warning to other talented kids seeking fame and fortune in-the highflying world of professional sports. The games of basketball are retold in minute detail which may fascinate admirers of the game but left me flicking through the pages. I sure hope the next John Grisham book I read is more like The Runaway Jury or The Client or The Rain maker. They are more to my liking.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christy Martin

    "Sooley", the story of a young basketball player from Sudan, is an inspiring tale of a young man from a war-torn area of the world. He wins a place on a team coming to America, makes an impression on a coach, and ends up on a scholarship to a small black college. It changes his life. During his time at the school, his country's unrest continues and he must face the challenge that causes. Luckily, not only his height but his basketball talent grows and opportunities present themselves. I have alw "Sooley", the story of a young basketball player from Sudan, is an inspiring tale of a young man from a war-torn area of the world. He wins a place on a team coming to America, makes an impression on a coach, and ends up on a scholarship to a small black college. It changes his life. During his time at the school, his country's unrest continues and he must face the challenge that causes. Luckily, not only his height but his basketball talent grows and opportunities present themselves. I have always loved John Grisham's underdog legal thrillers and felt that his other writing was mediocre. "Sooley" exceeded my expectations and is an inspiring story that will stay with me for a long time. It is a story that makes the reader grateful for the opportunities in our country. It is also a story of the perils of success and the intricate workings of professional and college athletics. "Sooley" is one of my favorite from this well-known author. Thanks, John Grisham for "Sooley".

  22. 4 out of 5

    J.C. Hinchcliffe

    Read in one day. Grisham is a favorite writer. I wait for his books and buy them immediately upon publication. I know very little about basketball and this is an unlikely story for me to read but because Grisham wrote it, I ordered it. I found the story to be an education on the basketball "industry," the scholarship process, the pro ball recruitment process and all that that entails. I always wondered why a kid would leave college for the NBA. Staggering amounts of money involved. I knew, of course Read in one day. Grisham is a favorite writer. I wait for his books and buy them immediately upon publication. I know very little about basketball and this is an unlikely story for me to read but because Grisham wrote it, I ordered it. I found the story to be an education on the basketball "industry," the scholarship process, the pro ball recruitment process and all that that entails. I always wondered why a kid would leave college for the NBA. Staggering amounts of money involved. I knew, of course, about the hideous living situation in many African countries but Grisham described what I never actually imagined. I will increase my donations to Doctors Without Borders. I liked the format of the book. I appreciated all of the information on basketball, sometimes presented in the heat of the game. The characters were well developed. The story itself, well, I read it in one day. Really good read. I hated to see it end.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    I'm a Grisham fan of his legal and court procedurals, and, so, I naturally assumed that his newest novel would be one, despite the book's description. I kept wondering if the Cinderella-type story would have a downside (was nothing bad going to happen to the protag?), and in would walk Grisham's legal eagles who would save the protag from himself and the American justice system. That doesn't happen. Grisham does give us a picture of the horrible atrocities that the South Sudanese people have suffe I'm a Grisham fan of his legal and court procedurals, and, so, I naturally assumed that his newest novel would be one, despite the book's description. I kept wondering if the Cinderella-type story would have a downside (was nothing bad going to happen to the protag?), and in would walk Grisham's legal eagles who would save the protag from himself and the American justice system. That doesn't happen. Grisham does give us a picture of the horrible atrocities that the South Sudanese people have suffered during the civil war strife their country endures, and lets us in on illegal ways that some refugees are extradited from refugee camps. Is helping the South Sudanese refugees Grisham's cause? Is that why his book's secondary plot evolves around the refugees' plight? Sadly, what this book proves to me is that if you are a prodigious best-selling author, you can get anything published.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Myers

    This is surely not your typical Grisham novel - but yet (due to his personal background) I am not real surprised that he decided to write it. There are no courtroom scenes with judges battling legal points - there are instead pages and pages of personal battles by a young Sudanese boy who has been given the chance to travel to America and further develop his basketball skills while meanwhile his family unfortunately battles brutal conditions in a war-torn third world country. Reading it will mak This is surely not your typical Grisham novel - but yet (due to his personal background) I am not real surprised that he decided to write it. There are no courtroom scenes with judges battling legal points - there are instead pages and pages of personal battles by a young Sudanese boy who has been given the chance to travel to America and further develop his basketball skills while meanwhile his family unfortunately battles brutal conditions in a war-torn third world country. Reading it will make you realize how much we fail to appreciate the benefits we take for granted. I had to admire how hard the young man was willing to work to become a better basketball player and I had to mourn for his mother as she tried to keep her young children alive. I often look back nowadays at what my husband and I accomplished in life but I know I could not have done what she did.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    The author switches gears in his writing and gives us a story about basketball, not the law. Samuel "Sooley" Sooleymon lives in South Sudan with his family in a very poor village, attending school and dreaming of playing basketball in the NBA. When an American coach spots Sooley playing, he takes a chance and adds him to a team headed to the U.S. for a tournament. So begins Sooley's year-long adventure in America. Grisham rotates the chapters between Sooley's life in the U.S. and his family's li The author switches gears in his writing and gives us a story about basketball, not the law. Samuel "Sooley" Sooleymon lives in South Sudan with his family in a very poor village, attending school and dreaming of playing basketball in the NBA. When an American coach spots Sooley playing, he takes a chance and adds him to a team headed to the U.S. for a tournament. So begins Sooley's year-long adventure in America. Grisham rotates the chapters between Sooley's life in the U.S. and his family's life in South Sudan, where civil war forces them into a refugee camp. The smooth writing, vivid characters, and charming likable protagonist, make this a very readable page-turner. I found one plot point a little hard to accept, based on Sooley's character, which is why this is a 4-star instead of a 5-star review. Otherwise, I highly recommend!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Hale

    Oh what a story! John Grisham is in a category of his own. He writes crisp, succinct stories with outstanding characters. There's no need for flowery, descriptive language to crawl inside the heart and soul of Grisham's characters. I fell in love with Sooley. At 17, Sooley was discovered in South Sudan on a dirt court by an American basketball coach trying to put together a team of young Sudanese talent. Sooley had raw, undeveloped talent and barely made the team but he seized the opportunity to Oh what a story! John Grisham is in a category of his own. He writes crisp, succinct stories with outstanding characters. There's no need for flowery, descriptive language to crawl inside the heart and soul of Grisham's characters. I fell in love with Sooley. At 17, Sooley was discovered in South Sudan on a dirt court by an American basketball coach trying to put together a team of young Sudanese talent. Sooley had raw, undeveloped talent and barely made the team but he seized the opportunity to travel to the US for a tournament. While playing in the US tournament, Sooley's village in South Sudan was attacked by rebels, his father murdered, his sister kidnapped, and his mother and younger brothers forced to flee for the Ugandan border. This is the story of Sooley, of how sport can transform lives, and a story of how quickly fame and fortune can destroy it all.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steve Hostert

    This latest novel from the talented and prolific author , John Grisham is a wonderful and entertaining story that I think will appeal to a wide audience. Grisham does not disappoint his readers and Sooley certainly fits that description to a tee. This fast paced novel is another page turner with a somewhat tragic yet hopeful ending. The book chronicles the life of a seventeen year old phenomenal athlete from South Sudan, Africa, and his Cinderella journey from the dirt covered courts of Africa to This latest novel from the talented and prolific author , John Grisham is a wonderful and entertaining story that I think will appeal to a wide audience. Grisham does not disappoint his readers and Sooley certainly fits that description to a tee. This fast paced novel is another page turner with a somewhat tragic yet hopeful ending. The book chronicles the life of a seventeen year old phenomenal athlete from South Sudan, Africa, and his Cinderella journey from the dirt covered courts of Africa to the hardwood courts of US Collegiate competition While Sooley is experiencing his journey into the limelight of March Madness in the NCAA tournament, his family and their homeland gets embroiled in a civil war. Grisham has proven he can write about courtroom drama but this book is a great change of subject matter for the author .

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    Had a difficult time with this book. First was the subject matter—that of a young man and his family living in the area of South Sudan, with all of the accompanying horrors of an area rife with longstanding civil war. Second was that of the author’s use of sportscaster-like terminology when he described the games Sooley played. This would go on for long pages, one after the other and, not being a basketball aficionado, I was totally lost and bored. Found myself skimming, as I really didn’t care Had a difficult time with this book. First was the subject matter—that of a young man and his family living in the area of South Sudan, with all of the accompanying horrors of an area rife with longstanding civil war. Second was that of the author’s use of sportscaster-like terminology when he described the games Sooley played. This would go on for long pages, one after the other and, not being a basketball aficionado, I was totally lost and bored. Found myself skimming, as I really didn’t care about how many screens he bounced off (finally looked up that term because it was used so frequently). I did finish and was glad I did, as once the basketball was done, things got easier to get through. And despite the difficult ending, I found it oddly uplifting.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Great story, exciting plot, and the definite culprit of two straight very, very late nights of not being able to put the book down. The story gives a glimpse into the absolute horror show of how life can be for people in rural Africa with the unthinkable atrocities. Sam Sooleymon is a fun, positive character, with a year in his life beginning and ending in the most different of places and situations. Fantastically written, but anyone that's read a few Grisham novels will know that the end won't Great story, exciting plot, and the definite culprit of two straight very, very late nights of not being able to put the book down. The story gives a glimpse into the absolute horror show of how life can be for people in rural Africa with the unthinkable atrocities. Sam Sooleymon is a fun, positive character, with a year in his life beginning and ending in the most different of places and situations. Fantastically written, but anyone that's read a few Grisham novels will know that the end won't be pretty. To note, if you absolutely hate basketball, know that there's a healthy amount of detailed basketball action. It's definitely well-written and pretty exciting, but I'm sure that's not everyone's jam.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dorothy Bennett

    For me, this is Grisham at his best. I did fear from early on that the ending would be sad, but given the subject matter and the reality of immigration in the US these days, to have everything go well would be perhaps unrealistic. Sooley from war-torn South Sudan is young and inexperienced in American education and the sports industry. While his talent is amazing, his awareness is less than required. I really enjoyed experiencing Grisham tackling a legal issue somewhat different from his usual a For me, this is Grisham at his best. I did fear from early on that the ending would be sad, but given the subject matter and the reality of immigration in the US these days, to have everything go well would be perhaps unrealistic. Sooley from war-torn South Sudan is young and inexperienced in American education and the sports industry. While his talent is amazing, his awareness is less than required. I really enjoyed experiencing Grisham tackling a legal issue somewhat different from his usual and finding an outlet in fiction for his own love of basketball. The book moved at lightning speed, and I loved that. He has produced some rather laid-back stories in recent years that have lacked the quick movement of his early novels like FIRM. This was great, for me, anyway!

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